Walmart is probably the last place you'd think to look for an indie music release. The store's music section is a bastion of the most mainstream, top 40-friendly music you can find. It's Xtina, Fergie and Akon as far as the eye can see.
But according to a posting over at EW.com that could soon change (thanks to Hypebot for tipping us off to the story). It seems you may soon be able to buy The Shins, Ted Leo, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Bloc Party and a bunch of other indies along with your water wings and jumbo Cheetos.
Some of the major indies are planning a series of compilations based on the idea of the popular "Now That's What I Call Music" pop compilations. Vice Records is looking to release the first -- as yet untitled -- compilation this summer. No word on a track list yet. Now that's what we call music.
Here's an interesting excerpt from the EW piece that explains the audience the labels are trying to reach:
'These bands' records sell really well to a particular audience,'' says Adam Shore, general manager for Vice Records, which aims to release the first volume this July (they're already the American home to high-profile acts Bloc Party, the Streets, and Charlotte Gainsbourg). ''But even though these artists are getting all this media exposure, they're not necessarily crossing over to a very casual record buyer.'' The plan of action? ''We're partnering with MTV2, and the focus is going to be Walmarts, big box stores, red states, and TV advertising — to really go beyond. . . We don't really expect indie-rock stores to support this record. It's for the casual fan.''More than anything else, this news seems to be another indicator of the long erosion between the underground/independent music scenes and the mainstream. It's hard to imagine indies placing their products in Walmart a decade ago, but in an age when Arcade Fire opens at #2 on the Billboard charts it may just make sense. It also indicates the huge boost indie music has gotten from the Internet. With a platform that allows indies to compete on the same footing as majors, it shows many people are exercising their right to choose.
Of course, the news also brings up whether indie fans want their money to go to a chain that has questionable labor practices, but that's a discussion for another post.